“Hawaii. All right, that’s good. That’s hard to trace, I guess. Wait… you changed your name to… McLovin?”

Two teens go on a minor quest to score with some girls. It’s a tale as old as time, and one that’s been done to death in film. What sets Superbad apart isn’t an original idea, but excellent execution. Directed by Greg Mottola (Paul, Adventureland) and starring Michael Cera and Jonah Hill, this is a highly accurate representation of high school life, and it is hilarious. And despite its often raunchy humor, the ending is actually fairly sweet and heartwarming. This is a stand-out film in the teen genre that will be remembered as a classic.

The main plot begins when high school seniors and best friends Evan and Seth are invited to a party by two girls they like, and are tasked with getting alcohol for the party. They then go and find alcohol for the party. It’s the subplots that really set this film apart. Evan was accepted to Dartmouth while Seth couldn’t get it, so looming in the background is the tension that their friendship is down to its final months. There’s also the inner conflict of the deep-seated insecurities and moral conflicts that each of the teens face. There are also two hilarious cops in most of the movie who seem to be yearning for their glory days back in high school. The characters and their subplots end up being more interesting than the main plot, and this is not a bad thing.

You know when you hear girls say, ‘Ah man, I was so shit-faced last night, I shouldn’t have fucked that guy’? We could be that mistake!

Superbad walks a careful line of openly discussing raunchy teenage behavior without glorifying it (although it seems to for part of the movie). This is not an inappropriate fairly tale where the heroes are rewarded with gratuitous sex without consequences or regard for the women’s feelings. The relationships between the two teens and the objects of their desire are natural and multifaceted, and end up looking much different than either of them imagines at the beginning of the movie. In the end, the movie says some great things about relationships, respect, and consent that I was not expecting.

Two officers examine Fogell's fake ID
“How old are you, McLovin?”

Superbad is an adventure, and it’s great about making you feel like you’re along for the ride and not merely a passive observer. It’s a wild night for Seth and Evan, and an even wilder night for their friend Fogell and his two newfound police officer friends. The movie is fun, funny, and upbeat, but has surprising depth as well. Writers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg based the script on their personal hijinks in high school, so the whole thing also feels more real than the typical Hollywood teen movie.

Superbad does contain some very mature humor and is not for kids, but older teens and adults will find it hilarious. It’s a serious contender for best teen movie of its decade (although Juno, which also came out in 2007, is equally strong), and it will likely be remembered as one of the top teen comedies of all time. If you’re a fan of teen comedies, this is an essential movie.

View my complete list of classic, essential, or just plain good movies!

Runtime: 1:59
Director: Greg Mottola
Year: 2007
Genres: adventure, comedy, teen
Rating: R

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